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What is the easiest retaining wall to build?

Oct 9


Retaining walls can keep topsoil and backfill from eroding and control them. You can build a retaining wall from stone, concrete, cement blocks or rot-resistant wood like pressure-treated timbers. We will discuss the best ways to build a wall and how to get started.

What is a Retaining wall?

A retaining wall, an outdoor landscaping feature that protects and retains soil from erosion, is called a retaining wall. To prevent hillsides from collapsing onto interstate highways, retaining walls are standard. Residential landscaping with driveways or other features cut into the hillside can also use retaining walls. When combined with other landscaping features, such as drains and vegetation, retaining walls can help to prevent erosion.

Which is the most accessible retaining wall to build?

A DIYer can usually install a small (less than 36 inches tall) retaining wall with landscape timbers. Landscape timbers can be confused with pressure-treated 4x4s. However, they are different. Landscape timbers are lower-grade lumber that is primarily used for strength and not aesthetics.


To resemble logs, the corners of landscaping timbers have been rounded. Long, corrosion-resistant spikes are inserted into the ground and wood to prevent wall separation. Landscape timbers can only support retaining walls up to 48 inches (4 feet) high because they are only 3"x4" wide. You should use masonry materials to build taller retaining walls in Pittsburgh.

Can I build a retaining wall myself?

Yes. You can build your retaining walls depending on how experienced you are with woodworking and masonry. Most do-it-yourselfers will be able to use landscape timbers to build the wall. You may also be able to make a retaining wall with concrete blocks or interlocking cement blocks if you are familiar with working with concrete.

Is there a cheaper way to build a retaining wall?

We will discuss the most cost-effective ways to build retaining walls and their pros and cons, from the least to the most expensive.

Timbers for Landscaping

Landscape timber walls are the most straightforward retaining wall for DIYers. It is also the most affordable retaining wall, requiring only timbers and a few screws. Landscape timber retaining walls are easy to build and require only a few tools that a DIYer might have, like a saw or hammer. Pressure-treated landscape timbers can be laid directly on the ground.

Cost: From 12.00 to 15.00 per square foot

Natural Stones

To make a retaining wall, you can also use natural stones like slate or river stones. Natural stone retaining walls can be the most cost-effective if the rocks can be collected. To resist the forces of the backfill, natural stone retaining walls are made with a mortar and the weight of the stone. Natural stone retaining walls can be of any thickness. However, rebar should not be used unless they are at least 250mm thick or 10 inches minimum.


Stone selection will impact the final installation if the goal is to collect stones. Natural stone walls, such as those made from slate, require more mortar than others. However, they will usually need less mortar and require fewer stones. River rocks and other rounded stones require more irregular stones as they take up more space and are generally larger than river rocks. It is important to remember that choosing suitable stones can affect the amount of labor and materials required to complete the project.

Cost: 30.00 per square foot - Free

Concrete Blocks

Concrete block retaining walls are one of the most popular because they are simple and inexpensive to construct. Concrete blocks come in many sizes and are versatile, incredibly when filled with concrete or rebar. Although anyone can build a concrete block wall, the labor involved can be costly. Concrete footings are also required for retaining walls made from concrete blocks. This will increase the cost.

Cost: Between 20.00 and 30.00 per square foot.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks

Interlocking concrete blocks are formed by applying force to the wall. Each block is interlocked to form a solid unit. The bottom edge of interlocking concrete blocks has a lip that supports both blocks. This is done to eliminate the need for mortar. These interlocking retaining walls are not mortar-based and can be used to build retaining walls up to 30 inches tall. This method requires site preparation and other materials like sand.

In the way they're installed, interlocking concrete blocks look similar to paving stones. A footer is usually made of fine sand, and stones are then incorporated into the sand by the weight of the rocks. Additional blocks can then be laid according to manufacturer instructions up to the recommended height. Although interlocking concrete blocks can be easy to use and install, they can cost as much as poured concrete, depending on their application.

Cost: Around 20.00-25.00 per square foot

Concrete poured

Concrete walls are the strongest but most expensive. The cost of excavating and labor is more than half of the cost of a concrete retaining wall. More enormous walls can prove costly. Concrete walls can be reinforced with rebar and other structural steel, allowing them to rise as high or low as needed.

Cost: Between 25.00 and 40.00 per square foot

Railroad Ties

Stacked railroad ties are a smart option for retaining walls. Railroad ties, like landscaping timbers, are highly resistant to rot. However, they must be treated with care and skin protection. Railroad ties are insect and rot-resistant because they contain creosote which can cause skin burnings.


Railroad ties can be installed by digging a small trench to accommodate the connection and then placing it in the hole as a footing. For strength, the relationship can be attached using railroad spikes or another large fastener. Railroad tie retaining walls are possible up to 6 feet tall (72"), but they should be reinforced with a bar if they exceed 4 feet (48")

Cost: Between 25.00 and 30.00 per square foot.

The Wall of Strength

While we all want a retaining wall to look great, it is also essential to meet the strength requirements. Pros will design retaining walls first for strength and then for their appearance. Talk to a structural engineer if you need assistance creating a barrier you can build. Your goal is to resolve erosion problems the first time. Do your research and, if necessary, consult a professional retaining wall repair Pittsburgh.